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California transgender student equality bill stays alive


Friday, May 30th, 2014
Issue 22, Volume 18.
Connor Sorensen
Special to the Valley News
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In August of 2013, California Governor Jerry Brown passed bill AB 1266, giving transgender students the right to not only end sex discrimination, but use bathrooms and join sports teams that correspond with their gender identity.

The bill, in its own right, is an amendment to the education code. It was passed last August with the intention to outlaw discrimination based on gender and end sex segregation.

The passing was celebrated by the LGBT community, as it is considered one of the first laws that directly affects and unshackles transgender students, allowing them to succeed without the deterrent of discrimination.

Since the bill was first created, it has been under fire and has been petitioned against for its simplicity and for allowing the invasion of students’ private lives; at least these are the main arguments of the petition rallied by the group Privacy For All Students (PFAS).

PFAS describes itself as a "coalition of advocacy, nonprofit, religious, and civil groups." Their goal is to give transgender students a separate unisex restroom, shower, and changing area. This is the only part of the bill PFAS addresses in their mission statement.

Although PFAS makes clear statements about equality, many transgender individuals stand against the group. As stated by Huffington Post writer Rye Silverman in his article Why Transgender People Belong in Your Bathrooms, "[AB 1266] recognizes, at the state level, the inherent right of a human being to self-identify." Silverman goes on to say that the petitioners are merely "[continuing] the cycle of ignorance."

The issue is definitely one of equality and fear. Denying transgender students their basic rights is dehumanizing, and puts them in situations where they appear to be an outcast.

In a progressive society it only makes sense to create an area where they not only feel safe but empowered. They have as much right to a voice and to liberty as anyone else, and yet the moment they’re given what they deserve, groups come along to try and take the advancements back.

The arguments made by the PFAS group lack real follow-through. They claim the bill is simplistic and lacks detail, but they fail to quote the entire bill.

AB 1266 mandates fair treatment among sex, whether it be biological or psychological. It specifies that a female student cannot be forced to take a course just because she is female, same goes for males. The bill goes into depth on a variety of other things as well, all of which focus on gender equality.

Another argument Privacy For All Students makes is that this law grants students the right to simply use any restroom that they please, this is not the case, otherwise there would be different news articles being printed since this bill was passed almost a year ago.

Most districts undergo a meticulous process like the group calls for, as it is in the best interest of the school and the students, transgender and non-transgender alike, to do so.

"It’s a very emotional issue," said Kris Thomasian, president of the Murrieta Valley Unified School District’s Board of Education. "We want every student to feel good about coming to school."

Thomasian also stated when discussing the current standard for transgender students, "There is a process…a boy can’t just go into the girls’ bathroom, that’s not going to happen. They would sit down with a counselor who will treat each situation individually to come up with the best solution."

So why make the argument for change? Schools are not here to try and belittle or hurt students. The standard goal for schools is not to break students down, nor give them a hard time, but to provide a safe area where they can not only learn but express themselves in the ways they see fit. So let us take the progress we’ve made and not

shun it.


 

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